Reunion Redux: The Girls

It's been 20 years since I graduated high school. It seems like forever ago and then certain memories feel like they just happened yesterday. I was one of those people in high school who was CERTAIN I would be back for every reunion and I would never forget anyone. When that's your whole life, you can't conceive of a life that's any different. It's kind-of like when you change jobs and after you've only been gone a few weeks, they call you from your old job with a random question about something. All of a sudden you can't quite remember the details. Our brains just don't keep all that old information anymore if it isn't pertinent to life today. At least my brain doesn't. Please don't tell me you remember everything, because I. Do. Not. Blessing and a curse.

So, the 10 year class reunion came and went and I didn't attend. I just didn't have a burning desire to be trapped in a bar with a bunch of people that I wasn't that close to 10 years earlier. Fast forward 10 more years and the advent of Facebook and all manner of social media and I've got approximately 150 "friends" on Facebook that I graduated with. I see details of their everyday lives on the regular. For me, this makes an actual face to face reunion seem even more awkward because all of that small-talk conversation is irrelevant. I already know how many kids everyone has and where they're living and what kind of job they have. And again, being trapped in a bar did not seem appealing to me.

HOWEVER, the 20 year reunion weekend was going to include an afternoon tour of my high school. My husband, Jim also graduated from the same high school, so I thought that would be fun for us to go back and take the kids so they could see some of our history. Our hometown is only about 90 minutes away, so I knew it would be an easy trip. Of course other members of my graduating class would be there, but my fear of small-talk would be eased because there really wouldn't be time for small-talk because there would be a tour guide talking the whole time. We would have to be quiet and listen! Aha! Perfect!

As the day drew closer, I started thinking about The Girls. Back in the day there was a group of 6 of us that were pretty inseparable. We went to dances together in various combinations, acted in the high school plays together, slept over at each other's houses sooooo many times, ate pizza, drove back and forth between each other's houses, talked on the phone!!, wrote notes, all of the typical early 1990s high school stuff. I'd kept in touch with all of them in one way or another, but we hadn't ALL been together in YEARS - maybe not since graduation.
This is the 1995 senior picture version of The Girls. That's me in the middle. My poor bangs. 
One of The Girls had recently moved back to our hometown with her husband and 5(!) kids. (She was a super quiet only child and we are all just as shocked as can be that she is the one who ended up with a whole herd of kids. But when you see her with all those kids it's the most natural thing in the world.) Another of the girls has always lived about 15 minutes outside of our hometown with her husband and 3 kids. The third lives about 2 hours away with her husband and 2 kids. The 4th was coming into town for the ACTUAL REUNION in the bar- she's always been a wild one ;-). So, I messaged them all on dear old Facebook and we decided to meet up after the tour of the high school for a couple of hours. I was so thrilled to get to see some of them.

One of The Girls was going to bring her kids to the tour also and that was super exciting because I knew I would feel at ease with her. What I did NOT anticipate was how we would immediately fall back into step. When I walked through the doors of the school with my family and I saw her standing there waiting for me I couldn't contain myself! I hugged her with an enthusiasm I hadn't realized was there. We immediately began talking and pretty much didn't shut up for the whole 2 hour tour (so much for being quiet and listening to the tour guide). Memories flooded my brain and I soaked up every minute we had together.
My big kids thought it was hilarious to get inside the lockers at the high school.
After the tour we met up with the other 3 Girls and had THE. BEST. TIME. My poor husband and our baby hung in like champs. The big kids had an absolute ball because between the 5 of us Girls there were 13 kids present, so there was no shortage of playmates. But, there was only one other husband there for Jim to chat with and the baby hadn't napped in hours. I brought a scrapbook I had made for my high school graduation party and there were yearbooks to peruse, of course, but the most important thing we did was sit around a living room and talk our heads off.

You know what? People don't really change. They might drop a bad habit or pick up a good one along life's road, but the personality they show you today will pretty much be the one you'll see 20, 40 or 60 years from now. I LOVED these Girls 20 years ago and as I sat in that living room I realized I loved them still. I think that's the beauty of friends from the old days. Your hearts beat together. You grew up side by side, you weathered some storms, you probably had drama, but that's so far in the past and what remains is the love. It tickled me to death to be reminded of their sense of humor and how one of them can dominate the conversation cracking us up and then make us cry in the next breath. Hearing one of them talk about a scary surgery, made me hold my breath. Having them next to me as flesh and bones made me realize how I would ache if I lost one of them too soon. Facebook, email and texting are no replacement for real live laughter, tears, hugs and smiles.
I think we look so much more awesome than the 1995 version of ourselves. We have aged well. And so have my bangs.
When it was time to say goodbye, it was hard to walk away. The wild one who was going to the actual reunion had to leave early to go get ready and she probably told us 10 times that she had to go, but we all just kept talking and she just kept on not leaving. We tried to clean up and get our kids in order but we stood in the kitchen talking 20 more minutes. We got to the front door and lingered there 5 minutes more. We walked to the driveway and got caught up in another conversation. When we finally drove away, I was so sad to leave them.

But love remains.

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